Sparta Board of Education Hears from Students About STEP and All Types of Travel

Sparta High School World Language students and teachers Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Sparta Middle School STEP students Kaela Burke, Kyle Neuwirth and Liam Rust present Google Expeditions Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Sparta Board of Education members try Google Expedition Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Alpine Elementary School STEP Teacher Christina Morrow Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Sparta Middle School STEP student Sophie Regeimbal Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Credits: Jennifer Dericks

SPARTA, NJ – If there was a theme to the Sparta Board of Education May meeting it would have been travel.  The meeting started with presentations about things that are going at Alpine Elementary School and Sparta Middle School.

Principal Michael Gregory introduced three students in the Sparta Township Enrichment Program or STEP and their teacher Cherie Shefferman.  STEP is Sparta’s version of a gifted and talented program.

Kaela Burke, Kyle Neuwirth and Liam Rust presented Expedition Field Trips to the board members, giving each member and administrator a set of goggles to try.  Expedition is virtual reality experience that allows students to investigate geographical locations and explore cultures and concepts they might not otherwise encounter.

Sign Up for E-News

“We found our peers to be geographically illiterate,” Burke said.  “It was disturbing because this fosters feelings of isolationism and nationalism.”

Rust spoke to the board about having the opportunity to lead other students on Expedition field trips.  “It gave meaning to the lessons because you see it not just read about it.”

Neuwirth said they were able to experience science lessons on motion and acceleration through a virtual reality lesson on rollercoasters. 

“It allowed students to be more engaged to better understand the lessons,” Neuwirth said.

The students led the people at the board table on an Expedition of ancient Greece.  They led an abridges lesson about the Acropolic, Mt Vacavis, Santorini and other locations.

“Every scene has a list of questions, varying in level of challenge,” they explained.

The Alpine Elementary STEP Teacher Christina Morrow explained the evolution of the program.  She meets “two to three times a week with student who have met the criteria to be in STEP.”  Additionally Morrow now meets with every class once a week as well.

“The students really are my inspiration,” Morrow said.  “Everyone has their own gift.”

One of the students’ favorite activities was creating stop motion animation.  They used 25 iPads Morrow got through a grant from the Sparta Education Foundation.  They created short videos on character education theme of being courteous, reminding their peers “not to forget their manners.”

“Every day they come to STEP, they ask if they are doing stop motion animation,” Morrow said.  “Thank you to the Sparta Education Foundation.”

The students learned about coding in Morrow’s class as well.  They learned about algorithms.  Using Lego Ed 2.0 donated by the PTO, the students create programs that get cars to move using iPads.

They use the iPads, loaded with Story Creator, Kahoot and QR code readers to do scavenger hunts and to create listening centers previously run with cassette tapes. 

Morrow also raised fish from eggs donated through the Trout in the Classroom program.  They got the eggs in October and released them last week along with goodbye notes written by the students on dissolvable paper.

“Thank you for having me,” Morrow said.  “It’s been an inspiring year.”

At Sparta Middle School the STEP students are required to complete a final project called a Legend Project.  They seek to find a solution to “anything they would like to do or change for students in the future.”

Russian teacher Suzanne Jouravlev introduced student Sophie Regeimbal to speak about her project. Regeimbal's partner in the project Lindsay Pugliese was unable to attend the meeting.

Regeimbal spoke with poise and confidence about the travel ban in the Sparta school district, prohibiting travel outside of the country.  She explained she had spoken with Superintendent Dr Michael Rossi on the issue.

“I’ve been given the reasons why travel was banned, primarily safety, financial considerations,” Regeimbal said.  She proceeded to provide options to overcome the objections.  As to safety, she suggested several options including going to a smaller city rather than one with a higher profile, using Paris as an example.  She also suggested the option of going to other countries where the language is spoken such as Canada, instead of France.

Regeimbal suggested a more thorough vetting process including a review of discipline issues, grades and teacher recommendations, “to ensure only responsible students” go on the trips. Further, capping the numbers and an assembly to convey rules and expectations would help.

Tacking the issue of finance Regeimbal suggested a set schedule of travel in the summer between junior and senior year.  “If everyone knows that’s the year, they can start saving,” Regeimbal said.

She also suggested opportunities for meaningful fundraisers such as “making food and clothes based on the cultures of the country to sell and raise money, like TREP$ with a twist.” 

The presentation continued by explain benefits to travel.  “They could work on a project while there; having the project reflect their personal learning style,” she said.  “It would be a boost to their transcripts. It creates habits that that stay with the student for life, and Two weeks of travel is equal to one year of study [of a language] in America.”

She said “While Google Expedition is amazing it cannot replace actual experience,” Sophie said.???  “There is value to both VR and reality.”

Jouravlev finished up the topic of international travel.  “It is the opportunity to utilize the language and culture they have invested years in studying. The ban has been stunting the academic growth.”

Sparta High School sophomore Jensen Scott traveled to France with his family.  He spoke to the board.  “I have the greatest memories of going on the French trip.  I’m going to study French for as long as I can and use it for future employment.”

Audrey, a junior traveled to Germany for 10 days last summer.  “Not only did I improve my German skills but I learned about the culture and how to get along in a different country.”

“Thank you for your passion,” Rossi said. “The policy committee will contemplate the topic.”

Kelly McEvoy said, “Thank you.  Our students make us reflective.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police Scoop Up Three on Outstanding Warrants

March 21, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta Police Officers have picked up three people on outstanding warrants recently in unrelated traffic stops.

On March 20, around 7:30 p.m. Sparta Police Officer Erick Finley stopped 25-year-old Newark resident Crystal Dejesus for a broken tail light on her silver Toyota.  Finley found Dejesus had an outstanding warrant from Alpine Municipal Court, police ...

Sparta Police: Car Crash Leads to Warrant Arrest

SPARTA, NJ –  A car going too fast for the snowy road conditions crashed on Route 15.  No one was injured in the one car crash but the driver, Melvin Pineda-Castro of Plainfield, 27, was taken into custody.  On March 13 around 6:30 a.m. Sparta Police Officer Ben Griffin arrived at the scene, according to police.

Pineda-Castro had lost control of his black Honda CRV, hit ...

Sparta Police: Failure to Keep Right Ends with Two in Jail

SPARTA, NJ – Two people from Dingman’s Ferry are facing charges for drugs and other issues after a traffic stop on Route 15.  On March 16 around 12:45 a.m. Cpl. Marc Rubino stopped Cory Parker, 34, for failing to keep right, police report.

The officer smelled raw marijuana when speaking with Parker in the red four door Ford.  The passenger, 35-0year-old Lindsey Hutchinson ...

Artificial Intelligence (AI): The New Space Race

March 21, 2018

Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems to be a rising component of Silicon Valley, Tesla for cars and space, and for IBM for it is the use of Watson, its high powered super computer for research! There are three types of AI by businesses:
1. Process Automation, which simply described is the automation of digital and physical tasks, which can range from some clerical and banking functions.


March 11, 2018



Republican Freeholder Candidates, Dawn Fantasia and Josh Hertzberg commended the District 24 Legislators for taking action in the wake of the horrific school shooting that took the lives of 17 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.   


Senator Oroho, Assemblyman Space and ...

Upcoming Events


Sat, March 24, 9:30 AM

Sparta Recreation Department, Sparta

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 24, 10:30 AM

Dykstra Park, Sparta

UNICO Easter Egg Hunt

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

McKenna Hall, Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Sparta

Night with NJ Giants #53 Harry Carson Beefsteak


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

Perona Farms, Sparta

Trout Unlimited Annual Fund Raising Banquet

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, April 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Fri, April 13, 5:00 PM

Sparta High School Auditorium, Sparta

2nd Annual Jazz Festival at Sparta High School

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, April 14, 9:00 AM


Jr Lions Football - Meet & Greet

Education Sports

Sun, April 22, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Newton’s Spring Street Turned Green for a Day for St. Patrick’s Day Parade

March 19, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—Despite the semi-chilly weather, residents from Newton, Sparta, Andover, Green, and all over Sussex County gathered on Spring Street, dressed in green for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

This year was Sussex County’s 15th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and had over 941 people marching in it, 79 vehicles, six floats and about 45 animals.

The ...

6 Easy Ways to Increase Zzzz’s During National Sleep Awareness Month and Beyond!

Team Nest Builder knows sleep deprivation leads to a myriad of problems, so we’re here to help you make your New Jersey home bedrooms the havens you deserve! Take a look at these simple ideas for increasing your zzzzz’s:

Soften Up

Employ a large area rug that covers the entire room to help absorb sound and enhance comfort.

Feeling Blue

According to a study by Travelodge, ...

4 Top Reasons NOW Is A Great Time To Buy A New Jersey Home

Team Nest Builder offers four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting:

Prices Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices appreciated by 6.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.3% over the next year.  The bottom in home prices came and left. Home values will ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


The Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders March 14 2018 meeting video

NEWTON, NJ - The Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders March 14 2018 meeting video.


Sussex County NOW Co-Sponsoring the March for Our Lives Newton

March 21, 2018

NEWTON, NJ - On Saturday, March 24th at 12PM, Sussex County NOW will proudly stand in solidarity with our co-sponsors, the Vernon High School Young Advocates Club and all of the other young leaders, both locally and nationally, who have organized a movement in the wake of the Parkland, FL school shooting to demand that students’ lives and safety finally take priority over the concerns of ...